The Cottage : Charmin’ Up the Exterior

So, we bought The Cottage, and started to work on the outside and inside at once. Since it was going to be a rental, we opted not to replace the vinyl siding – which hurts my heart as a preservationist but is quite practical. So, keep the siding and the roof, and dress up the original wood features and add some shutters. DONE.

Also practical? Cleaning gutters. I know – this is a VERY EXCITING BLOG POST so far.

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During this, and doing some minor roof work, Doug found an old newspaper in the attic. When you buy a house out of foreclosure like this one and Martin Place, everything cool has been taken out, stolen, or cleaned. People who find rooms of furniture or shoes or letters are SO lucky. We never find anything – this is the best we have. But there are some cool things in here. I photographed it instead of scanning it – it was way too brittle, so I’m sorry if it’s hard to read. But we hope to preserve this under glass.

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The Evening Star of Franklin, Indiana
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I bet Sam Miller doesn’t have that phone number anymore. FOUR POUNDS OF PEACHES FOR A QUARTER!
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Everyone. Someone is going out for peas. But probably not Stephen. He was just here this morning.
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I can’t even. This is the best. And let’s be honest – this could still be a thing in Beautiful Brown County today.
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Zimmerman Smith – you’re so crazy. Put down the bottle and the coal. $2 could’ve bought you 32 POUNDS OF PEACHES.
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Losing a white glove is a tragedy. I am on board with this announcement.
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Jackson Street (our old house’s street) is getting paved!!!!!
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Bad life choices. But, it’s probably worth the $1 to have a drink.
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I want to go.
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That Hearst. He wins hearts and minds.
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This is actually serious news.

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I guess I have to work now. I started with the front door. Which is amazing. And awful. It’s got such detail but is in wretched shape. I wanted to strip as much of it as I could, and get it to a good paintable shape to show off the details. And I wanted to paint it yellow. I have a thing for white houses with yellow doors. I adore them. They are so cheery! This red is just too dark.

There’s a shadowy figure in the window. It must be a ghost. That will make this post go viral, right? Ghosts do that, right? I mean, no one will believe it’s just me with a camera. We can make this fly. Tell all the people.

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So, we got the door out in the yard, and I used Soy Gel to strip it.

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It worked mostly well, but there were SO many nooks and crannies with all of the details.

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It took forever to get the red coat of paint off. Down to white. I was so frustrated at this point, because I just couldn’t get it right and perfect and I felt like I was ruining the door. Doug had to do some major calming of me. Because this looks awful.

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This is how this process made me feel.

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I’m smiling, because this horror of my life is now over. And I can begin to live again. Also, was my hair this short? I don’t remember that. And I need cuter work clothes. Because that should be a thing when you’re stripping doors.

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In paintable shape. That’s all I needed. Nooks and Crannies are clear.

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I primed the door and hung it up. These are the worst two pictures in the history of mankind. Clearly, a blog isn’t in my future when I took these.

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Next : Ripping out the FHA required porch rails!!!! Hallelujah.

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So, so, so much better.

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My friend Chris, who also painted the exterior of Jackson Street, came to do this one. I picked out colors (he argued with me about the yellow for the doors, but I still think I’m right), and he painted it, and built the window boxes and shutters. What a change. Now she really looks like a cottage, and a charming one at that.

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Also, she looks prettiest in the fall.


  1. Great newspaper articles! I love that a war correspondent lost en route to cover what must have been the Russo Japanese war is treated with the same gravitas as Mr. Payne reroofing his house.

    Also, love the yellow doors.

  2. I’ve just found your blog and I am absolutely loving it! there are so many home and interior blogs out there but this one is so unique, you two have such a great appreciation for the properties and manage to renovate while still maintaining the original beauty and charm. I can’t wait to see more!

  3. Found your blog online while looking for renovations diyer and I’m in love. In reading since the beginning and this house curb is my favorite so far. Looks amazing with the yellow leaves. Wished my country had seasons.
    Kisses from Brazil

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